BHANGRA V REGGAE INNA SOUNDCLASH was the billing.
Okay, the posters for this show (part of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s “In the Pocket” summer series on Gov Island, an abandoned Coast Guard island off Wall Street in NYC) got me drooling.
I visualized a bit of summer lawn postcolonial ananda –
DJ Rekha’s Basement Bhangra selections v James F$%&!-ing Friedlander mining 40 years of Trojan Records’ ska, reggae, and dub vaults.
Not quite so.
A light crowd turned out to hear selector J. Friedlander and the Subatomic sound system deliver a surprisingly weak 1 hr opening set, including a particularly painful beat-juggling passage from the classic “Police and Thieves” into one of Trojan’s thousands of obscure echoey dubs. Ouch.
With lackluster rhymes on the mic, DJ Treasure Don failed to move the crowd. By the end, Mr. Treasure was exhorting the crowd to check him out on myspace. Overheard:
“He better stay on myspace.”
“Uh huh. I hear what you’re saying.”
“Cuz he ain’t got much of a future out here.”
Admission: I’m biased. DJ Rekha’s one of my all-time favorite DJs in NYC.
She’s been reviewed before, when she played Summerstage in 2006. Fader lauds her melding of hip-hop and bhangra. her S.O.B. parties are legendary. She didn’t quite scale the heights on Gov Island, but during her 1 hr set (making do without a DJ (MC) or a singer, but with the admirable James Swarmi on the dhol) she sure made the growing crowd got off their ass and MOVED. Dropping a bit of the James Bond theme for the laughs, some of M.I.A.’s infectious “Galang” for the energy, and some classic bhangra for bounce, she got a coupla dancers up on stage, including yet another contestant for the Tony Manero of Bollywood crown.
Tho’ even Rekha rolled her eyes at some of his moves,
it all worked the crowd to a booty-shaking, head-wiggling hand-waving frenzy.
The finale was a 1/2 hour friendly soundclash – for which J. Friedlander and Subatomic suddenly pulled out some serious skills, and DJ Rekha pulled out some new stuff from her upcoming “Basement Bhangra,” featuring – was pretty silly by the standards of the real thing, but way more fun that the early afternoon had promised.
Right in the middle of a real exchange, just as DJ Rekha had pulled out the killer “Jogi” beat to play with, the Gov Island folks pulled the plug. As in turned off the music and said “Go Home”
So go home we did. But not before checking out the rest of Gov Island. Including the inevitable public art projects. Which, frankly, are never safe when I’m around.
Ride a horse, ride a subway, take a cab, but do not miss the next DJ Rekha party – or her new record. Hope you heard ’bout it here first.